I’d like to introduce today’s featured debut author: Alison Pratt is a native of Delaware and came to New York, where she currently resides, to go to graduate school. She has been a clinical psychologist for over 20 years, is an adjunct assistant professor at Queensborough Community College, and is a board member of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. She is married with one grown stepson and, she says, a teenaged son who has one foot out the door. Alison’s book, A Murder Before Eden, tells the story of her great-grandfather, who was murdered at age 81.
Name of book: A Murder Before Eden
Book genre: True crime/history mystery/nonfiction novel
Date published: 2010
What is your book about? The events take place in a small, segregated North Carolina town in 1947. This is the true story of my great-grandfather, Tom Pratt, his new young wife, and his murder at age 81. His wife claimed to have seen the attack that killed him, and blamed a 17-year old black neighbor for the crime. But Tom’s sons (my grandfather and great-uncle) did not think the boy was guilty and hired the best defense attorney money could buy to represent him. The trial made history, though few noted it at the time. This book looks into people and what they might have been thinking in the midst of a series of events that spiraled out of control to change them, and history, forever.
Why did you want to write this book? It was an incredible family story. No one had ever researched it fully or written it down. The more I looked into the story, the more fascinating details emerged; for example, this trial was the first capital case trial in North Carolina with women on the jury. Women had just been awarded that right in North Carolina earlier that same year. Women had served on juries for lesser crimes, but this was the first murder case.